Film

10 Movies To Make You A Better Gentleman

The art of being a gentleman, as with all things, exists on a spectrum. Some would view it as necessary, a non-negotiable and timeless trait that every man should possess. Some would view it as a quaint, idealistic, and ultimately harmless characteristic of a different and long faded away society. Some would view it as an oppressive symptom of a patriarchal system intended to remind women of their inferiority to men. Which is true? In a sense, all of them. In another sense, none of them. But what does it mean to be a gentleman? Further, is being a gentleman in the year 2018 even a worthy pursuit? I don’t know any of the answers to those questions; but I do know that movies can highlight characteristics that are worth emulating (or avoiding) to be a better person, and thus a better gentleman, in 2018. Here are ten such movies. (SPOILER WARNING: if you haven’t seen a movie on this list, it’s probably best to skip it, since I’m going to definitely spoil each one. I would say I’m sorry, but these are very good movies so I’m not that sorry. See them, then come back and read it.)

 

    1. TAKEN

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Bryan Mills is a retired CIA agent whose daughter is, uh, TAKEN, and then he kills a bunch of people and saves her. That’s pretty much the entire plot, honestly. I know that sounds like a critique, but as far as action movies go it’s one of the best (in my correct opinion.)

HOW CAN IT MAKE ME A BETTER GENTLEMAN?

Look, some people’s idea of being a gentleman is entirely comprised of the thought of the macho man who protects his family. If that’s you, TAKEN is the poster boy for what it means to be a gentleman. But here’s a hard truth: most of us don’t have a very particular set of skills, skills that we would have acquired over a very long career. Skills that would have made us a nightmare for people like the ones in the movie who had TAKEN Bryan Mills’ daughter. But the point is that Bryan leveraged what he had for the sake of those he cared about. That, essentially, is what being a gentleman is all about. That might as well be the definition of being a gentleman: leveraging what you have for the sake of others. Are you smart? Use that for others. Are you funny? Cheer people up. Are you just an absolutely ruthless killer? Kill bad guys. Ok, maybe not that one, because in real life I’m pretty sure Bryan would be TAKEN to jail.

    1. WALL-E

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

The year is 2040 (probably) and humanity has destroyed earth to the point that it is uninhabitable. Humans have abandoned earth, living on a luxury cruise ship that travels through space until earth somehow fixes itself of the damage they’ve done: the air is bad, the soil is bad, and trash is everywhere. The only residents of earth remaining are roaches (of course) and a series of trash collecting robots, who are tasked with fixing the least pressing of the earth’s problems. Wall-E is the last remaining operational trash-collecting robot. On a routine day he meets Eve, a probe robot searching for signs of life, and embarks on a journey through space and ultimately saves mankind.

HOW CAN IT MAKE ME A BETTER GENTLEMAN?

Recycle and carpool when you can so we don’t have to leave earth. But on a more immediately relational level, Wall-E is an excellent example of the perfect gentleman. From the moment he meets Eve, he is all in. Eve is consumed by her directive; in fact, it’s basically the only word she says throughout the whole movie. Wall-E cares so deeply about her so quickly that he becomes committed to her directive as well, to the forsaking of his own responsibilities. I know it can be hard to do, but it shouldn’t be: care about what your significant other cares about.

    1. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Steve Rogers is a skinny but persistent young man who continues to be denied the ability to serve in the military in 1942 America. He is then recruited into a secret government project, where he undergoes an experimental procedure that enhances him to the maximum of human potential. He fights HYRDRA and throws his shield and respects women.

HOW CAN IT MAKE ME A BETTER GENTLEMAN?

The procedure makes Cap just absolutely jacked. So maybe start with a good exercise routine if you can’t find someone who can perform said procedure. But before the procedure, Steve Rogers is already a true hero. He cares about others, doesn’t back down from a fight no matter the odds, and refuses to stop fighting for what’s right. We need more Steve Rogers’ in the world.

    1. ANY JAMES BOND MOVIE

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

James Bond is a secret agent, womanizer, and an alcoholic. He usually has cool spy gadgets and cars. He has the most recognizable drink order of all time (martini, shaken, not stirred). His movies are really fun.

HOW CAN IT MAKE ME A BETTER GENTLEMAN?

Don’t: do what James Bond does.

Do: dress like James Bond dresses.

James Bond is probably the first movie character that comes to mind for many when the words movie and gentleman are put together. But other than his wardrobe, gadgets, and (for lack of a better word) swagger, he’s just not a good role model. If you can make your wardrobe and confidence be modeled after James Bond while avoiding acting like James Bond in your interpersonal relationships, you will be well on your way to becoming a great gentleman. Good job, I’m proud of you.

    1. REMEMBER THE TITANS

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Two segregated schools in 1971 Virginia are federally mandated to be integrated. The white head coach is replaced with an African-American head coach, tasked with bringing the team together both racially and as a successful football team. It’s Denzel Washington at the peak of his game and if you haven’t seen it, go see it now.

HOW CAN IT MAKE ME A BETTER GENTLEMAN?

Coach Boone had a near impossible job. Anyone who knows football can succeed as a coach. That’s not the impressive part, although he did accomplish that. His true victory was taking a group of individuals with ingrained hostility towards each other and uniting them as a team, as a family. He helped lead them beyond their differences and unite them together. A true gentleman is a leader, someone who like Coach Boone is able to make those around him better, no matter their backgrounds or disagreements.

    1. LION KING

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Do you really not know? The greatest animated Disney movie ever made (in my correct opinion) is about young Simba, the heir apparent to the Pride Lands. While a child, Simba’s uncle (Scar) murders his father (Mufasa) and convinces him it was his fault. Simba believes Scar and flees for his life. After growing up, his best friend/love interest, Nala, finds him in the jungle and convinces him to come back and overthrow his evil uncle to take his rightful place on the throne.

HOW CAN IT MAKE ME A BETTER GENTLEMAN?

I really only have one scene in mind here. During his childhood years, Simba wanders off with Nala. Before tumbling down into the forbidden elephant graveyard, Simba and Nala are play wrestling. Nala comes out on top multiple times, showing that she is without a doubt the better fighter. Does this ruin Simba’s ego? It does not, and I think the argument could be made that the result is it makes him better. Does your significant other make more money than you? Are they better than you at sports? Could they take you in a fight? Who cares? A true man, a true gentleman, is confident in who he is and laughs in the face of danger and isn’t threatened by a woman who can do the same (or better).

    1. CAST AWAY

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Tom Hanks plays an engineer for FedEx whose life is going great. He’s good at his job, which it appears he gets a great deal of joy from and has a great girlfriend who becomes his fiancé on Christmas Eve. What could go wrong? Well, on a routine flight the plane he’s in crashes and he is the only survivor. He washes up on the shore of a deserted island and must figure out how to survive alone, his only company a volleyball and one FedEx parcel he refuses to open. Years pass, he ultimately escapes the island, and returns to find his fiancé has (understandably) moved on.

HOW CAN IT MAKE ME A BETTER GENTLEMAN?

In a lesser movie Chuck, the Tom Hanks character, would return from surviving his CAST AWAY experience and end up with the girl like nothing ever happened. And in their reunion scene, there’s a moment where we think that’s exactly what will happen. It’s obvious that both of them still care about each other and that they’ve been dealt an unfair hand by the universe. But Chuck recognizes the reality of the situation; it’s been years and she’s moved on, building a life where there is just no room for him. He makes the hard decision to move on and allow her to do the same. Most of the time, being a gentleman means being the one able to make the hard, but right, decision. Not to mention his strength and resilience in being able to survive the shipwreck in the first place. Tom Hanks is just the best.

 

    1. FANTASTIC MR. FOX

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

A stop-motion animated film loosely based on the book of the same name written by Roald Dahl. Mr. Fox is, well, a fox; a wild animal. Mr. Fox and his wife, Felicity, enjoy stealing chickens together. It is on a routine chicken heist and a brush with danger that Felicity reveals that she is pregnant. Mr. Fox vows to give up the dangerous lifestyle and settle down into family life. He succeeds for a while, working as a journalist and raising their son, Ash. However, Mr. Fox can’t resist the thrill of stealing chickens and begins secretly raiding three large farms run by humans named Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. These raids ultimately endanger his family and friends as the farmers seek their revenge, forcing Mr. Fox to face the consequences of his actions.

HOW CAN IT MAKE ME A BETTER GENTLEMAN?

What is our true nature? Are we, at our core, wild animals unable to be domesticated? Is the routine nature of family life a signifier that we were not intended for it? Pretty deep questions for an animated movie. There are a lot of things we can learn from Mr. Fox, but the biggest one I think is that it is possible to learn from our mistakes. We can all be a bit wild, we can make rash decisions thinking we are being true to ourselves, but ultimately end up hurting and endangering those we care about most. What matters is that we learn from that, take responsibility for it, and make right what we get wrong. Fantastic.

    1. HACKSAW RIDGE

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

The incredible true story of Desmond T. Doss, an Army Medic in World War II who famously refused to kill people. As a conscientious objector, Desmond saved between 50-100 people and treated even more. He went on to become the only man in U.S. history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a gun.

HOW CAN IT MAKE ME A BETTER GENTLEMAN?

War movies are fertile soil for harvesting examples of heroism and what it means to be a gentleman. They can also be fertile soil for an unhealthy understanding of masculinity being how strong you are and how much violence you can inflict on your enemies. Doss’ story shows us that a true gentleman, a true man, is actually someone who has the strength and courage to stick to what they believe is right. It also shows that sacrifice doesn’t necessarily mean being willing to kill for others, but rather being willing to die for others.

    1. GRAVITY

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Another survival story, but this time in space! On her first mission, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is doing a routine spacewalk to repair the Hubble Telescope. On his last mission before retiring, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) is serving as mission commander. In the middle of the mission, Houston control calls to abort the mission, due to a storm of debris caused by a Russian missile hitting a satellite. The debris sends Stone and Kowalski out into space, with limited oxygen and little chance of survival.

HOW CAN IT MAKE ME A BETTER GENTLEMAN?

After surviving the impact, the two use Kowalski’s thruster pack to attempt to make it to the International Space Station. Before they are able to make it, however, the tether holding them together breaks and Stone becomes entangled in parachute lines. At the last second, Stone grabs the tether, saving Kowalski from drifting off in space. Kowalski, however, realizes that his momentum would ultimately kill them both and so he unlatches his end of the tether and drifts off into the void. Now, in your quest to be a gentleman, you most likely won’t have to choose to die in space for someone else. But we often encounter situations in life where the right choice is for us to get out of the way and let someone else thrive. Being a gentleman means recognizing that we aren’t always the ones meant to be in the spotlight. Being a gentleman means knowing when to get out of the way for the good of someone else.

 

 

Article by Devin League

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